Difference Between Velocity & Capacity: A Product Manager's Perspective


The number of story points delivered in a sprint is called Velocity.

For example, if a development team planned a sprint, and points from all of the stories was 30, but at the end of the sprint, the team delivered 27 points. The team’s velocity would be 27.

From a product manager or product owner’s perspective, this metric can we a useful tool to plan future work. From a development team’s perspective, it can be used as a KPI to monitor the health development teams.

Velocity For Future Projects

Velocity can be a helpful KPI to plan/forecast either future projects. It can also help give insight into when current projects may be completed.

If you want to do this, track the average velocity over the last 4 sprints. Using individual sprint velocity won’t work as well since single sprint velocity varies from sprint to sprint due to vacation/leave, sick days, etc. By using that past 4 sprints, it provides a better gauge of the velocity for future sprints.

For example, if the velocity for the last 4 sprints were 23, 29, 35, 24, the prediction for future sprint velocity would be 27.75 (sum((23,29,35,24)/4).

In order for this to be a meaningful tool to help your team plan future work, it’s also important that the development team can estimate both user stories and project work relatively accurately.

Remember, when using a team's velocity to plan future work, the number should be used as a guide but should not be used as a contract.

Velocity For Development Team’s ‘Health’

A ‘healthy’ development team will typically have consistent velocity sprint over sprint. This is achieved because of the team’s ability to estimate (point) work and plan sprints well (know what is realistic to complete in the sprint timeframe). Teams usually get better the longer they work together and the more consistent the type of work is.

Does having a high velocity mean the team is a good one?

I’ve been asked this a few times before, and the answer is no. Having a high velocity every sprint, or even a low velocity every sprint, doesn’t mean the team is a good or bad one.

I’d even argue that the actual number doesn’t matter. Every development team points stories differently. A 3-point user story for one team might be a 5-point user story for another. It’s more important that development teams point and complete stories consistently every sprint.

There are circumstances where consistently is really hard but we’ll get into that a bit later.

As a product manager, if you’re finding that a team’s velocity is inconsistent, it’s a good idea to diving deeper with the team and understand more information behind the numbers. Jump into the conversation with a collaborative mindset to discover more. Treat it like a user interview.

The better the development team and you get at this process of measuring output, the easier it is to collaboratively build a roadmap.

Things to understand about using velocity to track development team’s health:

  • Too much focus is bad: While consistency is a sign of a “healthy/mature” development team, focusing on it isn’t always the right thing. Too much focus on consistency velocity may hinder the developer’s ability for creative problem-solving. For example, if a better idea appears mid-sprint, which is out of scope from the existing idea, you want to encourage having conversations about this. If developers feel too tied to velocity tracking, they could choose to just do the existing story because that’s what is being measured.
  • Non-pointed work: In my experience, research and development (R&D, Spikes, etc.) aren’t pointed on purpose. I’ve also worked in environments where some companies pointed bugs and others didn’t. Non-pointed will lower velocity, and that’s ok. By knowing this, you’ll be able to understand that there’ll be a drop in velocity if projects need a lot of R&D. This is common in new technology projects.
  • Team changes: As development teams change, this will affect velocity. Adding new team members likely won’t increase the velocity at first, it can even decrease it while the team adjusts. After new team members get up to speed, the velocity should be higher than before the addition. If it doesn’t increase, it’s a good time to dive and in and do some discovery.
  • Unstable sprints: I define ‘unstable’ sprints as ones where stories are being added or removed mid-sprint. When this happens, velocity will be inconsistent.


The total number of available hours for a sprint is called the development team’s Capacity. Available hours are calculated based on the number of available resources minus things like planned vacation/leave, company events, country holidays, etc.

Capacity is used to plan the sprint. The team commits to completing a set number of user stories/tickets within the sprint time frame. Points are used in the process to help gauge the difficulty of the story and to help gauge the feasibility of completing the sprint compared to past sprints.

For example, let’s say the team commits to 23 stories in a sprint and the point total for that sprint is 39; however in past sprints, the team’s average velocity (over the last 4 sprints) has been 27 points, the team should have a conversation why they’ve committed to more points.

If this happens, here are some things to ask/think about:

  • Is our available capacity higher in this sprint? (Fewer developers on vacation, no holidays in this sprint, etc.)
  • Can we outperform our average velocity? (New hires are contributing more, limited/no R&D in this sprint, last sprints had a lot of R&D, etc.)
  • Are there stories that have high points which may be a risk of not completing? Can we break those down into smaller stories to reduce the risk of rollover?

Agile Games: Paper Airplanes

Paper airplanes aren’t just for kids. They can also help cement agile concepts for small or large groups.

The Overview

Teams will compete against each other by creating paper airplanes. Each team scores points when their airplane makes it past a set distance.

All of the teams will have three rounds made up of:

  1. Planning (3 minutes)
  2. Building (3 minutes)
  3. Retrospective (3 minutes)

The team with the most cumulative points through the three rounds wins!


Even something simple like paper airplanes can help teams understand some core concepts of agile processes. I’ve found this game helpful to explain:

  1. Definition of Done (DOD)
  2. Estimation
  3. Incremental Improvement
  4. Usefulness of Retrospective
  5. Timeboxing (Sprints)


  1. Paper… a LOT of paper.
  2. Whiteboard, flip chart, or large TV to keep score.
  3. Tape or something to mark the throwing line and the “finish/point” line. The distance should be hard to achieve, ideally 10+ meters (30+ feet) apart.


  1. Only planes that cross the finish/point line count as a point. I typically allow planes that both fly and slide across count as a point. It’s up to you to define what “crossing” means. Is it any part of the plane or does the entire plane need to be fully across?
  2. Each team has the same amount of paper.
  3. A plane can only be thrown once. If it passes the throwing line in one round, the team cannot use it again in a different round even if it didn’t make it to the finish/point line.
  4. Planes cannot be crumpled into a paper ball.
  5. Planes can only be made of one sheet of paper (no paper clips, tape, etc.).
  6. Each team provides an estimate of the number of points they will get before each round.
  7. Each team should add a logo/number on the plane (helps keep track of points).
  8. Optional: Planes can’t have a pointy end (safety first 👷‍♀️).
  9. Optional: Add something to the Defenition Of Done (DOD) like adding a logo or name to each paper airplane.
  10. Optional: Teams can either have an unlimited supply of paper, or they have a set amount of paper, which they can use however they want throughout the three rounds.
  11. I prefer a set of paper so there isn’t excess waste and it gets the same agile concepts across.

Game Time

Round 1

Explain the rules and allow for questions. Have people move into teams of 4 to 10, then go through the 5 steps below:

Step 1: 3 minutes for the teams to plan for their paper airplane building, throwing, etc.
Step 2: 3 minutes for building planes.
Step 3: Get each team’s point estimate. Record it on the point board.
Step 4: 3 minutes of throwing (all teams can throw at the same time). Record the points for each team.
Step 5: 3 minutes for each team to do their retrospective.

Round 2

Repeat the 5 steps from round 1.

Round 3

Repeat the 5 steps from round 1.


After all three rounds are done, tally the points up and announce the winning team (who had the most points). Then, bring up some questions from the list below based on how much time you have for the debrief.


  • How did your estimates change over the three rounds? Better/worse/why?
  • How did your group decide? Single person, team effort? Why?

Incremental Improvement / Retrospectives

  • What were one or two things that came up during a retro, that had a positive effect?
  • How did you incorporate other team’s successes and failures into your team?

Timeboxing (Sprints)

  • Instead of three rounds, you had 9 minutes to plan, then 9 minutes to build, then 9 minutes to throw (waterfall method), would your team have more or fewer points?
  • Instead of planning, building, and throwing in timeboxes, what would happen if there were simply 3 rounds of 9 minutes (planning, building and throwing totally combined).

Definition of Done (DOD)

  • Was the DOD clear? If not, why?
  • Were there any planes that were disqualified? Why?

Product Prioritization: Speed Boat

Product Prioritization - Speed Boat

Identify what's slowing your product down

Welcome to 'Product Prioritization' - our series of tools, tips, and best practices for the skilled Product Manager to determine priorities and get results. Each month, we will highlight one of the dozens of popular methodologies and explain how to use it.

For our sixth installment, we take a look at a group activity called 'Speed Boat'.

Venting can be therapeutic, and it and also be incredibly insightful for your product team. There's valuable information you can take away from understanding what users or your teams hate in your product. The problem can be that complaints can in fast and furious and might not seem actionable.

It's really easy to focus on the trees instead of the forest and fix a lot of 'one-off' things for each complaint.

Early in my career, and in the early stages of a SaaS startup, if an influential user would complain, we'd rally the troops to delight them with a quick fix. Being a young company, we valued individual client satisfaction at the cost of scalability and sustainability.

It wasn't until later that I came to realize that the opportunity cost of delighting one client could sacrifice the happiness of many clients, especially when the customizations for clients meant that the product became bloated and slowed future development.

As I matured as a product manager, I was able to see complaints in perspective with the ecosystem of our product and industry. One great way to achieve this is with a prioritization technique called Speed Boat (I wish I used this back in 2008/2009).

What is Speed Boat and how does it work?

Get a group together in a room with a whiteboard. You can use a video call, but make sure you have a digital whiteboard that the group can interact with.

  • Sketch a speed boat, one that looks like it should go really fast. Feel free to do this before the meeting.
  • With the group, draw an anchor. Let the group know that the boat has the potential to be setting world speed records but the anchor is slowing it down.
  • Explain that the anchor is a representation of a feature that is keeping your product/platform from moving faster and being better (it could be a process or service depending on your company).

Now it's time for the group's participation. Have the group draw anchors and label them with the features they feel are slowing the product down and keeping it from being great.

*Bonus points if you want to have them use size to visualize how big of a problem the feature is to them. The bigger the anchor the more the feature is slowing the product down.

If people don't like to draw, you can have post-it notes ready for them.


Why I like this exercise.

I've found this activity can be relaxing, therapeutic, helps with team bonding, and a visual representation of the product. Doing an activity like this also seems to take the aggressiveness/anger out of complaints.

What you'll find is that most users, no matter how many complaints they have, still want to see the product improve and your role is to tap into that.

A few tips to ensure the meeting works well and the group stays focused:

  1. Don't let one user command all the attention. If this starts to happen, call out other group members to participate.
  2. Set ground rules so the group knows it's a brainstorming session and all anchors are welcome. Details can be sorted out later.
  3. You can change what the boat represents depending on what you'd like to get out of your session. It may represent a product line, a website, a project, etc.


Thanks to Folding Burritos for creating the Periodic Table of Product Prioritization Techniques.

Left: Collaborative Team Awarded for Best Employer Branding

Left Wins Talent Egg Award for Best Employer Branding

MAPLE RIDGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, SEPTEMBER 13, 2019 — LEFT, one of Canada’s Top Employers, was presented with the ‘Talent Egg Award for Best Employer Branding’ at the 6th annual Canadian HR Awards, held on September 12 at the Beanfield Centre in Toronto.

The Canadian HR Awards is the biggest awards event of its kind and brought together over 950 attendees for a packed evening celebrating excellence in the HR profession and recognizing the top employers, HR teams and professionals for their outstanding achievements and best practices.

The Talent Egg Award for Best Employer Branding recognizes the company that has developed, implemented, and participated in the most compelling Employer Branding initiative or campaign. Others nominated in the category included CGI CanadaKPMG CanadaLoblaw Companies LimitedMicrosoft CanadaCIRA and Uberflip.

Located in the suburbs of Vancouver, for years Left was one of the best kept ‘secrets’ as a top employer in the Lower Mainland — which created challenges for their recruitment efforts.

“In 2017, we experienced 108% growth while maintaining a 100% voluntary retention rate. Although these numbers were great, it became clear through discussions with our candidates that the most surprising piece of information they discovered about Left was that we simply existed,” said Tracy McDonald, the Director of Talent and Culture at Left. “To address this, in 2018 we increased collaboration between our Employee Experience and Marketing Departments. This award is a reflection of those efforts.”

Some of the campaigns that demonstrated excellence in delivering and communicating the Left employee value proposition include:

  • Inside Canada’s Top Employers: In 2018, Left was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for their HR initiatives and development opportunities. Left was the smallest company recognized, showing that you don’t need expensive programs to create an exceptional place to work. To spread this sentiment, they launched an ‘Inside Canada’s Top Employers’ campaign, a video series showcasing their unique story and programs.
One of the Inside Canada's Top 100 videos created by the Left team.
  • #LeftyLife: To highlight the Left culture, at the start of 2018, the Marketing and Employee Experience Departments made the decision to change their targeted audience on their social feeds from potential partners to potential hires. All content changed to provide glimpses of #LeftyLife to highlight their unique employee value proposition.
  • Make Your Mark: As a certified B Corporation, Left is committed to using business as a force for good. To measure their global impact, they selected eight United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that as an organization, they could advance. To help their team identify with the SDGs, they had each of them select and discuss the goals that meant the most to them. This turned into the 36-part video series that highlighted the caring and driven nature of the Left team.
Example of the Left Make Your Mark campaign.

From the collaborative campaigns listed above and more, Left saw a 986% increase in job applicants, maintained a 96% employee engagement score, and were invited to speak at 43 events around the world. The marketing campaigns that led to this success predominantly focused on showcasing Left’s unique company culture.

“Our vibrant employer brand is a reflection of our amazing team that drives our culture,” said Marketing Manager, Amber McLennan. “The campaigns we implemented were a great opportunity to show our community what makes Left such a special place to work.”

The Canadian HR Awards is organized by Key Media, the global publisher of Human Resources Director (HRD) magazine, in partnership with Ultimate Software. Winners were selected by a judging panel of experts who independently reviewed the entries according to each category’s criteria.

HRD Managing Editor Emily Douglas said: “HR professionals are vital to the success of their organizations so it’s wonderful to see their hard work and innovative ideas rewarded on such a special night. I’d like to congratulate this year’s hugely diverse range of winners and nominees whose positive impact reflects the very high standard of HR and leadership right across Canada. It’s always a pleasure to cheer on the winners as they receive their career-defining awards.”

For the full list of winners and finalists and information, visit Canadian HR Awards.

About Left

Left is a B-Corp certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. One of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Left has grown into a global team of over 120. Left Travel, a brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. With its mobile mesh networking project powered by blockchain and tokenization, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices, subsidiaries, and employees in Bangladesh, Switzerland, and the United States.

About Human Resources Director (HRD)

Human Resources Director (HRD) is Canada’s only magazine written exclusively for senior human resource professionals and top corporate decision-makers. HRD talks to leading HR practitioners from around the globe to produce an industry-standard magazine that supports both the business and best-practice functional requirements placed on HR leaders in their evolving roles. HRD is complemented by an award-winning website (www.hcamag.com) featuring daily breaking news, an industry forum and exclusive multimedia content, as well as sister publications in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Left recognized as a “Best For The World” B Corp for creating the most positive impact for their workforce

MAPLE RIDGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, SEPTEMBER 4th, 2019 — LEFT, a Certified B Corporation, has been named a Best For The World honoree in recognition of their relationship with their workforce and the significant positive impact they’ve created over the last year. Left ranks in the top 10% of all B Corps in the worker impact area on the B Impact Assessment, thanks to their corporate culture, work environment, worker health and safety practices, and other employee-centric policies and practices.

Best For The World recognition is administered by B Lab, the global nonprofit that certifies and supports Certified B Corporations, which are for-profit companies dedicated to using business as a force for good. Today there are 3,000 Certified B Corporations across 64 countries and 150 industries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business.

B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corp Certification doesn’t just evaluate a product or service, it assesses the overall positive impact of the company that stands behind it — like Left. Using the B Impact Assessment, B Lab evaluates how a company’s operations and business model impact its workers, community, environment, and customers. To achieve the B Corp Certification, a company must achieve a score of at least 80 points on the assessment. Left is proud to have scored 101.

“We’re incredibly proud of this year’s Best For The World honorees,” says Anthea Kelsick, Chief Marketing Officer of B Lab. “These inspiring companies represent the kinds of business models and impact-driven business strategies that are building a new economy — one that is inclusive, regenerative, and delivers value to all stakeholders, not just shareholders. To that end, B Corps like Left are redefining capitalism and showing that it actually can work for everyone.”

“We are honoured to be named a B Corp Best For The World honoree for our unique culture and initiatives that support our Lefties (employees).” Said Tracy McDonald, Director of Talent and Culture at Left. Our Lefties are the heart of our organization and this recognition highlights the culture that they’ve helped build over the last nine years. We recertify as a B Corp in early 2020, and we look forward to seeing the progress we have made as a team.”

1,000 B Corps from 44 countries were named to the 2019 Best For The World lists, including Patagonia, Beautycounter, Dr. Bronner’s, TOMS, Seventh Generation, and Greyston Bakery. The 2019 Best For The World honorees are determined based on the verified B Impact Assessments of Certified B Corporations. The full lists are available on https://bcorporation.net/.

About Left

Left is a B-Corp certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. One of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Left has grown into a global team of over 120. Left Travel, a brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. With its mobile mesh networking project powered by blockchain and tokenization, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices, subsidiaries, and employees in Bangladesh, Switzerland, and the United States.

Contact: Amber McLennan, Marketing Manager; amber@left.io

About B Lab

B Lab is a nonprofit that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. B Lab’s initiatives include B Corp Certification, administration of the B Impact Management programs and software, and advocacy for governance structures like the benefit corporation. B Lab’s vision is of an inclusive and sustainable economy that creates a shared prosperity for all. To date, there are 3,000 Certified B Corps in over 150 industries and 64 countries, and over 50,000 companies use the B Impact Assessment. For more information, visit https://bcorporation.net/

B Lab Contact: Hannah Munger; Manager, PR & Communications; hmunger@bcorporation.net; +1 212–608–4150

Stay in Touch

To stay up to date with Left, please join our social channels:

Product Prioritization: Planning Poker

Stop gambling on what to do next… by playing poker

Welcome to ‘Product Prioritization’ — our series of tools, tips, and best practices for the skilled Product Manager to determine priorities and get results. Each month, we will highlight one of the dozens of popular methodologies and explain how to use it.

For our fourth installment, we take a look at ‘Planning Poker’ also known as ‘Scrum Poker’.

At Left Travel, we enjoy using ‘Planning Poker’ when it’s important that the team needs to come to a consensus. This technique is perfect for:

  • Aligning different stakeholders
  • Extracting silo-ed information from stakeholders
  • Keeping meetings interactive and fun

What is Planning Poker and how does it work?

At a high level, ‘Planning Poker’ is a prioritization technique where multiple stakeholders get together and establish the value of a project, feature, or idea. For the purpose of this blog post, we’ll discuss ideas.

The technique is gamified to estimate value. Stakeholders are presented with an idea and each one of them votes on how valuable they think the idea is by using a set range of cards or poker chips with varying values. Votes remain hidden until all members have voted to avoid influence from other members. Once everyone is decided, the votes are revealed at the same time.

After everyone has presented their votes, the stakeholders who voted with the highest and lowest values explain their reasoning. The voting process repeats until the team agrees on a value for the idea.

How to Play

Step 1: Deal Cards or Poker Chips

Each person is given a set of cards or poker chips. The value of the cards or poker chips should be set as 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100. While ‘Planning Poker’ can be played with different values (like a Fibonacci sequence), what matters most is that the higher the bets get, the larger the gap is between the next lowest and next highest values.

Step 2: Rules & Establish Values

The moderator or scrum master explains the rules of the game to the group (explained in the following steps).

Next, the moderator establishes what the number value of each card or chip is worth. Since value is subjective, it is crucial to complete this step before starting the exercise. Take the time to go over a few past ideas that are complete and assign them a value. It is best to pick ideas that vary strongly in value to allow the stakeholders to be able to easily compare low, medium, and high-value past ideas to new ideas. Use the phrasing ‘X idea is a 40 because…’

Step 3: Present the Idea

Next, get the product manager or owner to present the ideas to the group and ensure that there is full clarity on every aspect of each of them. The moderator can also act as the product owner for some or all of the ideas that are being discussed. Allow time for Q&A from the stakeholders.

Tip: Standardize the way the ideas are being presented to avoid a stakeholder over- or under-emphasizing specific ideas based off of their personal opinions. Set timing and structure requirements.

Step 4: Voting

Once everyone has had a chance to ask questions about the idea, it is time to vote. Each stakeholder selects a card or chip and places it face down on each idea. The higher the value of the card or chip the more important it is to the stakeholder. Once everyone has cast their vote, all of the votes are revealed at the same time. It is important to keep the votes secret until everyone is ready in order to make sure that the stakeholders involved aren’t influenced by others in the company — no matter what their role is.

Step 5: Discussion

Start the discussion by having the stakeholders that cast the highest and lowest votes explain why they gave the idea that value. Through this discussion new data can be discovered as the high and low-value voting members will often have additional information about the idea that others didn’t have prior to voting. For example, a stakeholder might know how an idea may possibly have a massive impact on another feature, or how the idea would be a big waste of time because it doesn’t impact any key KPIs.

The moderator will typically only need to call on those who had the highest or lowest value, unless a stakeholder who voted in the middle is very passionate about an idea. At some point in the game, most stakeholders will end up on the high or low end so they’ll get the opportunity to participate. If there is someone who constantly votes in the middle, call on them at some point to make them feel included in the discussions.

Step 6: Assigning Value/Voting Again

Assuming that not everyone assigned the same value to an idea, after hosting a discussion, have the group vote again. Repeat the process until the group comes to a value consensus (they all vote the same). Once agreed upon, assign the decided value to the idea and move on to the next idea.

Tip: If the stakeholders aren’t coming to a consensus and a revote has been cast, it is helpful to ask the stakeholders that are not aligned if they are comfortable adjusting their vote up (or down) to meet with the group. This usually works.

If it doesn’t work, note down what the scores from the group were and the members who wouldn’t adjust their vote. This is done not to single them out, but to make a reminder to approach them later so that you can dive deeper into their reasoning.

Step 7: Finishing Up

Once all of the ideas have a documented assigned value, sync up with the team that estimates the size (level of effort) of ideas.

Once the size has been determined, create a ratio of the idea/ feature/ project, to the level of effort. Give bonus points if the team can take the information and get it down to story points, sprints, days, etc. Once completed, there will be a list of prioritized ideas.

Tip: A simple 4-quadrant list with value and level of effort will help identify ideas that stand out.

The Benefits of Physical vs. Software

Last week, the Left Travel team did a ‘Planning Poker’ session to value some of our upcoming data projects. When prepping for it, I looked into the benefits of using physical cards/chips compared to using a software program.

I ended up deciding to use physical cards. I found that many of the paid or free ‘Planning Poker’ software options were either too cumbersome or tied to a roadmapping system. For our team, the effort to go through the onboarding process was too much of a pain. In saying that, if you’ll be using the ‘Poker Planning’ technique often, it might be a good idea to use software.

You can purchase ‘Poker Planning’ cards on Amazon or Mountain Goat Software.

Other Uses of Poker Planning: Backlog Grooming & Remote Teams

Outside of assigning collective value, the ‘Planning Poker’ technique can be used to groom your backlog and development estimations (sizing). It is recommended to use the Fibonacci sequence instead if you’re doing one of those.

‘Planning Poker’ also works really well with remote team members. The moderator will have some extra prep to ensure that the stakeholders have the card or chips before you start (software may be a better option for remote teams), but the voting and discussions work well if everyone is on a video call.

What it means to be a B Corp

Why Left became a B Corp

At Left we believe that you need to know the score to be able to improve and succeed, that is why ‘Keeping Score’ is one of our core values. Whether it is knowing the daily sales stats or tracking community hours, it is important to know your metrics as we believe, that which is measured, gets improved. 

In 2015 we realized that there was a lack of data on parts of our business that were the most important to us, such as measuring our employee engagement and our global impact. The metrics we wanted to track were over time, not day-to-day or month-to-month, but year-to-year. 

To address this, we started by selecting a local company, Perked!, to keep score of our employee engagement and satisfaction. While this tool was leading us in the right direction, it didn’t track how we were making our mark globally or provide benchmarks with other organizations. 

It was while reviewing our fellow nominee for the 2015 ‘Technology Impact Award in Community Engagement’, Traction on Demand, that our Director of Talent and Culture, Tracy McDonald, saw the B-Corp logo for the first time. 

Reading through their website she thought ‘we could do this’ - it was exactly what we were looking for. Being a B-Corp would provide us with a way to ensure that we were doing things right. It would allow us to benchmark ourselves with other organizations, and over time, it would allow us to pick elements from within the scoring mechanism that we could work to improve. Becoming a part of the B Corp movement was a way to be a part of the change, and in our small way, help to champion that change.

In 2017, we were proud to have become a ​Certified B Corporation.

What is a B-Corp?

Certified B Corporations are organizations committed to doing business as a ‘force for good.' Certified companies hold a high standard of “verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”

As a collective, the B Corp community works to create a global cultural shift to redefine success in business with the goal of building a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Becoming a B Corp

Becoming a Certified B Corporation is a tough milestone to achieve, and we're proud to have earned it!
Unlike other organizational certifications, the B Impact Assessment doesn’t only evaluate a product or service, it assesses “the overall positive impact of the company that stands behind it.” This happens through an evaluation and scoring of a business's impact in five key impact areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. To become B-Corp certified, companies must score a total of 80 across all impact areas. Left is proud to have scored 101.


The Left impact area score.

Although we're happy with our score, we recognize that being a B Corp is a commitment to abide by a high standard and seek constant improvement in everything we do. We’re always working to improve our impact areas and make a larger positive mark in our Community. We recertify in early 2020, and we look forward to seeing the progress we have made.

Why Left believes in B Corps

It is our goal to model growth without compromise. Where other companies are limited to maximizing shareholder value, we welcome the B-Corp requirement of maximizing “the value of all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, our partners, the community, and the environment.” This codification ensures that whatever twists and turns the company may take, all involved are assured that we'll live up to our brand promise: We are Left; we do things right.

About Left

Left is a B-Corp certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. One of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Left has grown into a global team of over 160. Left Travel, a brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. With its mobile mesh networking project powered by blockchain and tokenization, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices, subsidiaries, and employees in Bangladesh, Switzerland, and the United States.

Stay in Touch

To stay up to date with Left, please join our social channels:

Inside One of Canada’s Top 100 Employers

Earlier this year, Left was honoured to have been named on the elite list of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. The award recognizes companies that invest in their employees’ personal growth by offering unique initiatives, continuous learning, and development opportunities.

Left was the smallest company recognized, with only 36 Canadian employees at the time of entry. “Although a small company in comparison to others on the list, our heart is big,” said CEO and Co-founder, Chris Jensen. “We’ve demonstrated that you don’t need big, expensive programs and benefits to create an exceptional place to work — with innovation and progressive initiatives, any company can become a top employer regardless of size if you set your heart and mind to it.”

With that statement in mind, we want to share some of our ‘Lefty magic’ by giving a behind the scenes look into what makes Left one of Canada’s Top Employers.

Board Room

To start our #InsideCanadasTop100 tour, we bring you to the boardroom which reflects that 1/3 of our people are in Maple Ridge and the other 2/3 of our team are in Bangladesh. We use this room to conduct team calls to bring our global Lefties together.


The other special thing about this room is that it has our B-Corp certificate. We became a certified B-Corp in 2017, which means we're committed to use business as a force for good. It was a tough milestone to achieve, and we are very proud to have earned it.

Scrum Room

As a technology company, we practice agile methodology and use sprints to organize our workflow. We have our goals visually displayed to encourage cross-department transparency within the company.

Dhaka Room

Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh where over 18M people live and where Left has one of its two Bangladesh-based offices.  Like many evolving cities in emerging markets it is growing rapidly. Each year, almost 1M people are added. When you have that kind of growth, the infrastructure simply can’t cope. Healthcare, roads, connectivity - they’re all being strained.

A large part of what we’re building with the RightMesh project is about finding solutions for those in emerging markets. The Dhaka room reminds us of this, and the people we’re trying to help.

Disney Room

When we set up Left we looked to people we admired, and one of those is Walt Disney because of how he set up his business. In 1957, he had the foresight to imagine what Disney could be today. With Left, we have tried to do the same by building a company with a strong vision of lasting value.


Everyday our team meets at 10:10 am to share news, updates, wins, and most importantly, the numbers. We practice open book accounting, because we believe if everyone has a chance to hear the numbers, they have an opportunity to influence them.

Dream Program

Through our award-winning ‘Dream Program’, we help our Lefties identify their personal dreams, and we support each other collectively to achieve them. Whether an individual’s dream is to buy a home, be a digital nomad, achieve Permanent Residency in Canada, or something as simple as have the time to teach their kids to cook, we pool resources or tickets, conduct training, or find other creative ways to support each other. We believe that whatever the dreams, it is our obligation to help our Lefties achieve them because they are helping us achieve our corporate ones.


Our library acts as a multipurpose room. It serves as not only a quiet place for our Lefties to work or read but is also a spot for our Lefties’ children to spend a few hours when they’re off school.

Standout Wall

We find that if we focus on our Lefties’ strengths, rather than their weaknesses, they’re more passionate about the work they're doing. That is why we use ‘Strength Finder 2.0’, an online resource that identifies 'stand out' traits. We display the results on our wall to show our team the best ways to work with each other based on our strengths.

Games Room

A few years ago, we realized we could spend a few hundred dollars on an okay boardroom table or we could spend the same money on a really, really nice table tennis table... guess what we chose?

Legendary Lefty Wall

One of our favourite unique initiatives, the ‘Legendary Lefty program’ was put in place as a way for Lefties to nominate their peers when they see them demonstrating our core values. Every month at each of our offices, one ‘Legendary Lefty’ is chosen from our wall of peer nominations and recognized in front of the team!

Core Values

The very essence of Left is reflected in our 10 core values which we’ve had since the company’s founding. We keep our values displayed on our kitchen wall to keep them top of mind and be the best we can be.

If you have any questions about our programs or initiatives, or if you would like to come see our office for a culture tour, please reach out to amber@left.io!

Product Prioritization: MoSCoW

Must, Should, Could, Won’t

Welcome to ‘Product Prioritization’ — our series of tools, tips, and best practices for the skilled Product Manager to determine priorities and get results. Each month, we will highlight one of the dozens of popular methodologies and explain how to use it.

For our fifth installment, we take a look at ‘MoSCoW’, a quick way to identify things that will surface to the top and sink to the bottom. The MoSCoW prioritization technique isn’t as refreshing as a Moscow Mule but, it’s still a good one.

It’s similar to the Stacked Ranking technique, but sometimes it’s either too hard or takes too long to get a ranking of the features you want to prioritize. If you find that features are too similar, and your team is ‘arguing’ over a feature that should be in the #3 or #4 spot, MoSCoW should be a good fit.

Besides a yummy drink… what is MoSCoW?

MoSCoW is an acronym to help you remember four different categories when you’re running a prioritization session.

  • M = Must Have. Critical features that must be included in the product. If it’s not included, the product release will be a failure.
  • S= Should Have. Important features, but not critical for the product. These could be features released in phase 2 or added into phase 1 if your team has extra development time.
  • C = Could Have. Commonly called ‘Nice to haves’ aka ‘NTH.’ These features aren’t necessary for the release. As new information comes from users, these features may move to a ‘Must’ or ‘Should’, or to a ‘Won’t’ in future planning sessions.
  • W = Won’t Have. Kill these ones. These features will be things that aren’t aligned with the goal of the product, or maybe the risk/value is in the wrong quadrant.

Wait. What about the two Os?! They don’t stand for anything but are just there to create a name that’s more memorable.

This is a good method when you need a quick ranking to start to paint the picture of what should be in the next release, in the MVP, or even in the next sprint.

I’ve found that MoSCoW works better in smaller groups. In larger groups, the nuance of a feature being in the ‘Should’ or ‘Could’ group may take away from the intention of getting a quick prioritized list.

Moderator Tips

This method is also enhanced when combining it with real Moscow Mules.

When coaching a team about this method, it’s a great idea to bring in real Moscow Mule cup as a visual aid. Having this visual helps your team remember this technique.

Product Prioritization: Buy-a-Feature

Using cash to identify key ideas

Welcome to ‘Product Prioritization’ — our series of tools, tips, and best practices for the skilled Product Manager to determine priorities and get results. Each month, we will highlight one of the dozens of popular methodologies and explain how to use it.

For our third installment, we take a look at ‘Buy-a-Feature.’

At Left Travel, we enjoy using the ‘Buy-a-Feature’ technique when working with internal teams or external users who ‘want it all.’ It’s always challenging working with stakeholders who want all of the features, all at the same time — this prioritization technique helps enable them to describe the value they see in the features in a new way.

What is ‘Buy-a-Feature’?

‘Buy-a-feature’ is a product prioritization technique used when a product is under development to quantifiably estimate how valuable a feature or an idea is. To do so, a product team will work directly with customers and key stakeholders to solicit feedback and prioritize enhancements or features which the participants want or value most.

How to use ‘Buy-a-Feature.’

Our team loves this prioritization technique, and as such, we highly recommend it under the right circumstances, such as during an in-person focus group. To use it, we’ve developed a game that breaks it into 5 simple steps:

Step 1: Make a feature list.
As a team, make a list of the features that need to be prioritized.

Step 1.5: *Optional* Assign each feature a price.
Give each feature on the list a value or price. The value or price should be based on the relative size, LOE, and scope of the project to represent the effort required to build it.

At Left, we’ve run this technique with and without prices. While both options work well, we’ve found that by having prices it helps focus groups that are outside of software development understand the actual ‘cost’ of a project.

Step 2: Get customers and stakeholders together.
Get your company’s stakeholders and/ or customers into a room (or on a video call) to start the game. Explain the features on your list to the group to ensure everyone has full clarity on their benefits.

Step 3: Give out the cash.
Give everyone in the focus group the same amount of money to use during the game. If you’ve assigned prices to the features as in Step 1.5, give them between 50–60% of the total cost of all of the listed features. This is to make sure they are being selective in their buying decisions.

Step 4: Have them buy.
Ask your stakeholders to “buy” the features they like. They can spend all their money on one or two, or spread it out evenly — it’s their “money,” they can spend it how they want to!

Observe the buying process and have the stakeholders explain why they spent money on the features that they picked. This is the Product Manager’s opportunity to listen to your customers and/ or stakeholders and understand both their individual and group ‘buying’ decisions.

Step 5: Collect observations for action.
Arrange the list of features by order of how much was spent on each feature (top=most money; bottom=least money). Now you have a list of features ranked and a value assigned to them.

Once the game is completed, use the ranked list and collected observations to make informed decisions on future product development based off of your customers’ and stakeholders’ needs.

Tips when using Buy-a-Feature:

  • This technique carries more weight when done with end-users as it shows the value they see in the features they would use in the product.
    This game can be run either individually with a stakeholder, or in a group of stakeholders.
  • If there are a few features that are bought with a similar amount of money, group them together. For example, a $5 difference between two features may be insignificant or subjective to the particular stakeholder, depending on how much money you gave the group.
  • Allow ideas to flow from your participants. If new features or ideas come up, use the structure of the game to ask what the estimated value of the feature would be and where it would fit within the ranked list.
  • For a fun twist, use real money. There’s something about handling real money that changes people’s buying behaviour.